Responding to Earthquakes in Puerto Rico

UPDATE (January 14, 2020) HHI is supporting the Ponce Health Sciences University Mobile Medical Unit, which has deployed to the areas impacted by the recent earthquakes.  In addition to supporting the Ponce Health Sciences University, HHI is supporting the Puerto Rico Department of Health with hygiene kits and technical assistance, building on an ongoing grant program established in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. HHI is working to fulfill a request for tetanus vaccines and insulin in response to the earthquakes and is actively participating in the Puerto Rico VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) meetings looking for potential partnerships, connections, and ways to help the anticipated impacted communities.

Hygiene kits assembled by the following partners are being sent to restock the already distributed supply of kits:

  • PQMD (Partnership for Quality Medical Donations)
  • IBT Industrial Solutions
  • Ecolab
  • Employment Practices Network of Kansas City

(January 10, 2020) A 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the southern region of Puerto Rico on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, followed by a 6.0 aftershock. These are the latest in a series of earthquakes that began on December 28. These quakes have forced more than 2,000 people into shelters. A million people are without power and thousands are without water as of Thursday, January 9.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico. “We are concerned about potential impacts of this week’s earthquakes on the lives of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico,” Azar said. “Across HHS, we have worked closely with the territory’s health and human services authorities on disaster recovery, and will continue to do everything we can to help ensure the health and well-being of people across the island.”

Heart to Heart International has had an agreement in place with the Medical Corps Reserve of Puerto Rico since fall of 2019 to respond to health needs in Puerto Rico in the case of a disaster. We stockpiled hygiene kits with the Puerto Rican government (Medical Reserve Corps), with COSSAO in Utuado and with TLC in Yabucoa. The organizations have distributed the kits to those sheltering outside in the Southwest part of the island

“We have remained active in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, working with local communities and government organizations to improve health access and be better prepared should a disaster occur. No one ever wants a disaster to happen, but you want the ability to respond quickly if they do. With hygiene kits prepositioned on the island, we are able to help people immediately after a disaster,” said Kim Carroll, CEO, Heart to Heart International.

More hygiene kits are being shipped to Puerto Rico to fulfill requests from the Medical Reserve Corps and the Office of Public Health.

We continue to reach out to all our partners on the island and remain ready to respond to needs on the ground.